KEF to clothe LS50 standmounts in piano gloss white, blue


It ain’t the looks that matter; it’s what’s on the inside that counts. That’s what we’re told time and again. But in an age where Tinder has left the algorithm-driven partnering of online dating stalwarts and eHarmony for dust in all but two years, isn’t it time we acknowledged that appearances matter considerably?

It’s the same with hi-fi. Beauty might be skin deep or it might go further but if the sonic goods aren’t wrapped in layer of attractiveness, few will notice. Just ask Peachtree Audio – their D/A converting integrateds don’t sell on audio smarts alone. The rounded corners and blue-glowing tubes make the introductions, the talk of Class D and ESS Sabre DACs come later. Look-see first, ask questions later.

We shop with our eyes almost as much as our ears. Amplifiers and DACs can be kept small and unobtrusive – and in the most demanding of cases, out of sight – but loudspeakers by their very nature must be visible. For those not fortunate enough to have a dedicated listening room, loudspeakers are pieces of furniture that audiophiles and their families must live with on a daily basis. Size matters. Appearances too.


I doubt anyone at KEF’s Kent engineering facility or their Hong Kong mothership could have foreseen the runaway success of 2012’s LS50 standmounts. Conceived as a modern take on the LS3/5a design to celebrate their 50th anniversary in the business, the LS50 truly captured the contemporary audiophile’s imagination.

KEF sold container-loads in the first year alone. Through-the-roof sales figures ultimately forced GP Acoustics to rethink the LS50’s limited edition status. The only sign of discontinuation is the quiet disappearance of “50th anniversary model” from just below the gold Uni-Q driver. Little wonder that this reviewer’s piece on three possible budget amplifiers for the LS50 remains one of this site’s most popular articles.

Enter conjecture: I doubt the LS50 would have sold even a tenth as well had it been styled like the BBC monitors of yore. We only have to look to the more modest operation of Harbeth in East Sussex and their P3/ESR standmount to know that traditional looks are of niche appeal. The LS50 sounded terrific whilst keeping one eye on the future (as opposed to both on the past).

The conviction to dress the LS50 in modern robes of piano gloss black and rose gold reportedly came not from the UK but from Hong Kong honchos. And knowing a good wicket when they see one, GP Acoustics have just signed off on a fresh set of clothes. A white and blue LS50 is about to hit your local dealer. This time the aesthetic temperature is cooler: piano gloss white finish with a blue Uni-Q driver. The internals remain unchanged.


One expects this fresh look will go down especially well with the home installers of the CEDIA set if matching white speaker stands can also be sourced.

Speaking to the Australian distributor this very afternoon, word is that they will land down under in “about a month” and will sell for the same price as their black/gold brethren. That’s US$1500 Stateside, AU$1999 in the lucky country. Keep your eyes peeled.

All we need now is the full bling: faux-gold cabinet finish with a crimson red Uni-Q driver. Waddayareckon?

Further information: | KEF America | Advance Audio Australia

Written by John H. Darko

John lives in the NOW + HERE = NOWHERE. He derives an income from the ad revenues of DAR. John is also an occasional staff writer for Stereophile, 6moons and TONEAudio.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
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  1. I’ll take the extremely loud, sensitive, and beautiful copper-coned Klipsch RB-61 II at $497 per pair delivered from Amazon in the U.S. Not quite the bling, but less than a third the price for some very good speakers.

    • But are the Klipsch sonically comparable to the LS50? I’d wager they each have a very different sound.

      • I admit, I’d rather have the KEFs, but I’m trying to inject a sense of reality. I have to buy speakers. I don’t test them. I have to buy them. $1500 is mighty steep if I actually have to come up with the coin. In that case, I would say the Klipsch would get there 90% of the way for one third the price. If cost is no object, we can talk all day, but some readers unfortunately have a budget.

        • True enough. $1500 for LS50 is a long way from ‘affordable’ for many listeners. You could get close to the LS50 for considerably less cash with a whole number of speakers; the closest might be their X300A that come with amplification AND internal DAC built into the boxes for around the same price as the Klipsch you mention (which don’t come with amp and DAC).

  2. I’d love to see them make a floor standing version of this, same cabinet width and depth but about 950mm high, in white or black body, with black and silver driver, and designed to work near walls or other less than ideal placements. Price it under $3k Aussie and I’d be first in line. I think there would be a lot of people in line behind me.

    • There would indeed. AU$3k might be a tough ask though. Number one on my KEF wish list are *active* LS50.

      • You can have your wishlist #1. As I understood you’re going to review the Devialet, they have their SAM for the LS50 waiting for you to download. Do you still have a pair around to try it? Would be very interesting; a nearly invisible stereo that sounds near perfect.

        • That’s a cunning plan you have there Bert. I no longer have my orig ls50 but might be able to source another pair. Devialet review won’t be happening until January at earliest.

  3. They are beautiful.
    I second active LS50s. Have you had something from your buddies in the industry because I’ll start saving up then?
    I got fooled by their size. They are tough beasts to power. Honestly, if it was me John, I wouldn’t have gone with any of the 3 amplifiers you tested. This beauties need some industrial style loving from a couple of monoblocks.

    • Nah, heard nothing – just wishing and wanting. And I hear you on power: after I wrote that amp piece I got the best sound of all from the ls50 with a pair of Wyred4Sound mAmps.

  4. Ugliest speaker ever. What on earth were they thinking? Gloss white with blue drivers?

    This is even uglier than the orange driver (and yes, I own a pair – they’re ugly).

    • I tend to agree; the blue will take some effort getting used to it. If the cabinet needs to be white, then I would have preferred the black and silver driver of the Kef X300A.

    • They look good in real life. Saw them at the show in Zurich.

      Blade 2 getting same treatment. There are now many “lifestyle/interior designer” motifs to choose from.

  5. The X300-A’s which I have on my desktop give these a run for the money. Obviously not as good, but active with built in amplifier and DAC, now available stateside for $499.

  6. I’d love a scaled-up LS 50. Double the size of the driver, cabinet, adjust the electronics’s. Call it the Kef LS 50×2. Oh lord I want one!

  7. Black & rose gold or white & blue? Geez, those are some weird colour combos. I’m really tempted by the Ls-50s to upgrade my 20-year old system, but have to say the styling turns me off a bit. Black & silver would have looked good. Anyone seen any “real” photos of the white & blues in the wild? All the ones I can see on the net look like computer drawings…
    On another note, I’m trying to decide between the KEF LS-50 and the new model ATC SCM-11 which also gets good reviews. Any thoughts on the differences? They’d most likely be partnered with something like a Rega Brio or Elex amplifier and Rega or Audiolab DAC in a 7m x 4m room.

    • My buddy runs ATC SCM-11 (old version) with the Brio-R with good results. However, I suspect both speakers would benefit from more grunt, especially the less efficient ATC. I’d peg the KEFs as warmer, less neutral than the SCM11.

  8. Thanks John. Having done some more reading it does seem the SCM-11s benefit from having ample power. Which got me thinking about suitable amps, and without wanting to go into power-hungry high-power Class A territory, it seems that Class D might suit the SCM-11s. I read all your reviews of the Peachtree Nova125 and SE version. Any thoughts on how that combination would work? Thanks again.

    • Get the Nova125SE over the Nova125. Otherwise, if you have a DAC with volume control, even better is a pair of mAmps from Wyred4Sound.

  9. I spent a bit of time with early versions of these for one of my clients. Beautiful. Actually thinking of replacing an ageing pair of Acoustic Energy floorstands with them.

  10. Personally, I like the white and blue styling employed on this model.
    That being said, I like modern eclectic styling.

    I find the aesthetics striking and quite acceptable for many modern living/listening rooms. But as in life these things are always subjective, so each to their own.

    On a side note, I particularly find the cabinet design and port implementation impressive. The Kef Ls50 design white paper is well worth a read.

    A substantial limitation of these speakers, will undoubtedly be their ability to produce low frequencies with any low end extension, authority or impact… That said, they are mini monitors so maybe this is not an appropriate comment… but for me (and many others I suspect) this limitation is a ‘real’ show stopper.

    As per one other reader, an active/passive 8inch – 10inch model would really get my interest.

    • As I already mentioned above, Devialet has their SAM ready for download for the LS50. It lets them go down as deep as 28-29 HZ ( ), undistorted that is. It would be great if John would indeed find another pair to test this out for the world. And, yes, I prefer the white/blue styling too; nearly invisible, nearly perfect, nearly full-range. You can’t get much closer for real world money.

      • Hmmmm.
        Far from the ideal solution.

        Actively manipulating low end frequencies by those orders will force Kefs little 5.25inch driver into Xmax well before substantial SPL is achieved.

        I would hazard to guess the devialet active DSP/EQ would be “ok” at low volumes, however achieving decent SPLs will present serious limitations for this ported speaker, due to the tuning frequencies chosen by Kef for the design.

        You will note no SPLs are provided in their bass extension website claims.

        Speakers which employee active equalisation on this scale will typically have a closed box design, or a cabinet/port tuning in line with the anticipated response of the driver, plus a driver with considerable Xmax/and voice coil cooling capability – To prevent driver unloading and/or distortion/damage.

        (Yes I understand the devialet solution provides Xmax protection, but it fails to compensate for the speakers box tuning frequency, Xmax and power limitations of the driver.

        Unfortunately there is no replacement for displacement. Physics always wins.
        DSP and EQ can help extend/flatten room response but Xmax and SPL limitations will remain real limitations for small drivers/speakers not designed to do so.


        • You’d be right if they’d correct in the amplitude domain, but they don’t. They correct the phase shift in the LF that every speaker has, based upon their measurements of some 70 parameters (including voice coil temperature). That’s how they get the bass clean, clear and deep. In accordance with the laws of physics, just implemented in a less traditional way.

          • Can’t find a single actual user review on the Devialet with KEF LS50. I too wondered how in the world they could get down to 28hz with the LS50 with much volume at all. Seems almost impossible unless we are talking rather low dbs.
            Anyone has insight to this?

  11. Only the other day I was talking to my other half saying how I wish our LS-50s had a Dyson blue driver. Then I see this and damn it’s close enough for me. I love the black and rose gold but these are off the chart. Cracking speakers, and I’m going to do everything in my power to get these in my life!